Amish and the law

Just read an interesting article in the Mount Vernon News about the relationship between law enforcement and Amish in a few Ohio communities.

One of the two sheriffs interviewed–hailing from Knox County, an area with a relatively small Amish population–says that law enforcement tries to be sensitive to Amish customs and in particular the Amish system of church discipline.  “I believe a lot of times things get handled within the community,” he says, a point his Holmes County counterpart seems to agree with.  Exactly what those ‘things’ he is referring to are, is unclear from this piece.

When criminal offenses occur, the law must become involved.  As a rule, Amish readily cooperate with law enforcement.  At the same time, that cooperation is not necessarily universal, and as one of the sheriffs points out, “without a victim, there’s little we can do.”

The question remains as to how often criminal acts in Amish communities go unreported?  There has been a tendency in some media to play up a supposed ‘dark side’ of Amish society in a theatrical way.  A long-ago blog post examined one 20/20 piece on an abuse case which painted the Amish with a big brush, in a report complete with ominous music and tired generalizations.

Assuming Amish communities conceal rampant domestic crime is pushing the idea a bit far.  At the same time, in smaller, more isolated, and often more conservative and ‘closed’ settlements, the likelihood of a criminal act being absorbed by the community is probably greater.

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    1. Jacob

      I am sure there are incidents of violence and abuse among the Amish, as there are among all large groups of people and within all communities. However, I get the feeling that many government and “social-minded” people try to play it up and create an air of doubt in order to justify reaching into the Amish communities. Some of those people apparently believe that the Amish way of life is inherently violent and abusive towards women, for example, and the fact that they cannot always “get in” must really bother them.

      The more the Amish practice passive non-cooperation with respect to government law enforcers, the more I respect them.

    2. tj


      I thought you might find this video interesting….I did!

    3. Thanks tj, I really did find it interesting. As much as I admire the Amish as a culture and for their willingness to make lifestyle compromises or maybe rather their lack of compromises, I have often wondered how much understanding of scripture the “average” Amish man or woman really has.

      These two young men are standing on some sound principles. They are not the first to find church with a capital C is not in alignment with God’s word with a capital W. I found it fascinating to listen to the evangelical outreach on the street near the end of the clip, as our own pastor has made many of the same observations numerous times in our own independent, non-denominational church. I pray their efforts bear much fruit.

      I also pray for the little girl with leukemia. Sounds like she has a long, tough row to hoe. However, her parents seem to have a strong understanding of the matters of faith associated with her illness. If you pray, I would ask that you pray for all of them.

    4. Courtney North

      OldKat, I’m trying to contact the Amish in South Texas. Please contact me at courtneynorth@hotmail.com.

      Eat ’em up!

    5. Pingback: Missouri Amish Abuse Story | Amish America
    6. dishonest Swarey amish of Indiana

      Swarey family,Lavina & Markus,seem to think they are above our law when it comes to lying an taking money for horses sold as registered colts 1 bilgain,1 percheron to be my studs for buisness.Paid one I have with me the other half which is still with them pending we get the registeration papers,which for some reason they have a different excuse for not giving,so now they don”t think they should return my money for the one they still have and the papers for the one I paid for ,I”am trying to run my own horse farm,told them I was taking them to court for fraud an theft their reaction was they don”t answer to our court system.The amish are no better then we are they only hide behind there so called beliefs,my husband calls they posers.Don”t deal with them unless you get everything up front because they will lie right to your face just to make that dollor.

    7. BEWARE the Swarey"s in washington county ind.

      The Lavina & Markus Swarey,are the most dishonest people I have came across.They have been lying to me from the first day I did buisness with them.I bought 1 Belgain 1 Perchon studs from them,asked an was told they were both registered without papers breeding is pointless for my buisness,waiting for papers I paid the Belgain off he is with me,half on Percheron still at there place still waiting for them to give us the papers all I”ve been getting is excuse after excuse for 8 months now I”am patient gave them time to get them,but really enough,now they don”t think they should give me my money back for horse they have or papers for the one I have.Told them I was taking them to court for fraud an theft,their reactions was they don”t answer to our court system.My husband calls them posers they hide behind their beliefs when need to but will lie an cheat anyone for a dollar I hope the Swarey family in Salem Ind. does not reflect how all Amish believe.